Exports of agricultural and food products from Western Australia to the Middle East are expected to grow significantly over the next five years.
Returning from a 16-day trade development mission to the Middle East, Agriculture and Food Minister Kim Chance said there were new opportunities for increasing trade in meat, grains and live animals to the region.
Mr Chance said there were also opportunities for the increased export of horticulture, dairy products, fodder and stockfeed.
The Minister visited Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Libya, with representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA).
“It is clear from the meetings I had with Government officials and importers and investors from the private sector in the region that demand for WA products will continue to increase,” Mr Chance said.
“The growing demand from the Middle East is due to several factors including a rapidly increasing population, the realisation that it isn’t economical to use scarce water resources on low-value irrigated agricultural production, and the need to secure food supplies in the face of rising food prices.”
The Minister said several private sector groups he met expressed an interest in increasing their investments in the WA livestock sector, including meat processing and the introduction of new sheep breeds in high demand in the region.
“I am encouraged by this interest as it signifies confidence in the ability of WA as a long term sheep-meat and beef producer,” he said.
“Introducing new breeds such as the Saudi Arabian Nejdi and the Naimi could increase returns for sheep-meat producers by up to 50 per cent.”
Mr Chance said he was pleased to report the successful resumption of live exports of cattle and sheep to Libya. Libya was at one time the major destination for the export of live cattle from WA.
“I was also approached by several grain and fodder importers interested in the import of wheat, barley, fodder and processed stockfeed,” he said.
“While this is partly due to the news that the Australian wheat market is likely to be further deregulated, it’s also the result of changes to government policy in some countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, which is reducing it subsidisation on wheat production by 12.5 per cent per annum down to zero by 2016.”
In the first visit to Yemen by an agricultural trade delegation from WA, the Minister reported there was strong interest in importing more wheat from Australia.
The trade mission also discussed opportunities for technology transfer projects in biosecurity and Mr Chance visited WA project teams involved in a soil survey of Abu Dhabi and a rangeland development project in Libya.
Several companies are expected to visit WA to follow up on potential projects generated as a direct result of the Minister’s visit. A delegation from the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture is expected in the early part of 2008.
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